davecity re: Dragon Age not actually being set in the middle ages–absolutely true, and honestly the only way you can make the worldbuilding make any sense is if you assume that they used to be more technologically advanced and have declined. (Ferelden, one of the poorer/less politically powerful nations, is the most ‘medievaloid,’ presumably since they can’t afford to import dwarven tech as much. But what we see of Orlais is much more Sun King-era France–not medieval at all, and indeed, not even so much Renaissance as Early Modern.)
I’m not even talking about “fall of Rome” type of decline. I mean that I think that before the darkspawn incursion destroyed the majority of their cities (really, all but one! that’s a devastating blow), the dwarves had gone through an industrial revolution, and dwarven technology is still at a post-industrial level, although the loss of all the thaigs except Orzammar has stunted their ability to take advantage of it. I mean, we see incredibly complex mechanical devices in Orzammar, although it’s unclear what they’re powered by (could be steam, could be lyrium).
But I have to assume that the reason that, e.g., printed material is common in above-ground Thedas is that Orzammar trades things like printing presses and weaving machines for, you know, food. (Since it’s canon that they can’t make enough food to feed their people anymore, due to the loss of territory to Blight and darkspawn.) The wealthier nations–Orlais, of course, but I have to assume Tevinter as well–can buy technology off of them, and while I assume that the dwarves keep a pretty tight rein on schematics and so forth (because they need to maintain a monopoly to keep feeding themselves), it’s almost certainly not unheard-of for people on the surface to reverse engineer their technology. Plus, dwarves exiled to the surface would have no particular reason to respect the Orzammaran ban on revealing the working of their mechanisms to outsiders.
And then there’s the whole question of magic, of course. In the Circle-owned shops you can just buy magical runes (and lower-level runes aren’t even that expensive!), and while in-game they’re used exclusively for fighting, I have to assume that there’s also a trade in runes for things like powering your oven or forge, or keeping food chilled. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine someone investing in a fire rune to heat water for a bathhouse, and then making up the cost by charging a small fee to use it.
And of course, before the disaster of the magisters and the First Blight, magic would probably have been used even more freely.
And this is leaving aside the question of the qunari lands–I mean, the qunari have gunpowder and, implied, other ‘modern’ technologies as well, possibly because their lands to the north never suffered from Blights and never had that dramatic setback and regular cultural upheaval. (It’s canonical that the qunari have figured out gunpowder and other explosives while the dwarves haven’t, although I find that a bit hard to believe given the dwarven technologies we have seen.) We don’t know much about Par Vollen, but I think it’s entirely reasonable to imagine it as more like 19th century London than like what we see of Ferelden.
tl;dr: I think it’s more useful to think of the setting of Dragon Age as, functionally, post-apocalyptic rather than medieval. And as in any post-apocalyptic setting, wealthier areas (like Orlais and Tevinter) would likely maintain more conveniences of the ‘old age’ than poorer areas (like Ferelden and the Avvar lands).